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Time to put my clinical hat on alongside my kitchen apron and talk about a very important GI tract matter.

What is the difference between prebiotic and probiotic? We seem to have these words circulating everywhere now. What are they? Well for starters, prebiotics are carbohydrates that are like a fertilizer for the probiotics we get when consuming fermented product (yes I know fermented doesn’t sound too tasty!) like yogurt, kefir or sauerkraut.

You probably already eat an occasional yogurt (that’s a probiotic) so lets take another step forward and include prebiotics in our diet. The two work together to keep a healthy gut in the world of fast food, rushed meals, processed food and high starch low fiber foods like pizza, pasta,  bagels ect ect .  Our gut, specifically the colon needs this fiber to manufacture SCFA or short chain fatty acids to produce colonocytes that increase immunity and reduce cancer promoting enzymes. 

These special complex carbohydrates called …get ready-fructooligosaccharides or FOS to help colonize the good bacteria like lactobacillus, bifidobacteria  in our gut already  and enhance our immune system. 

There is a special case where the FOS may not be tolerated and that is in certain IBS  situations where the individual may be on a Low FOD Map diet due to gas and pain from the high fiber FOS additions to the diet.  Start with very small  amounts of prebiotic fiber rich foods, one at a time to see if there is toleration. Consult a gastroenterologist and dietitian regarding Low FODMap diet.

We don’t consume enough Prebiotics!

What are they? 

  • Jerusalem artichokes (as featured recipe in next blog )

  • Raw Honey

  • Bitter greens- Arugala, Dandelion greens 

  • Onions

  • Leeks

  • Slightly green Bananas 

  • Jicama

  • Asparagus

  • Apples 

    An easy way to start would be to include onions in your cooking a meal. They are a prebiotic that contain inulin, for blood sugar lowering properties. We all can get a quick prebiotic boost with an apple a few times a week or some chopped arugala in a salad.

    Prebiotics may help with:

  • Diarrhea

  • Ulcerative Colitis

  • IBS

  • Candida

  • IBD



Sanders, M. E ,  Salminens  et al “Probiotics and Prebiotics: Prospective for Public Health and Nutritional Information 2012”

Holmes E, Li Athanasian T, Trends in Microbiology “Understanding the Gut  Microbiome -host metabolic signal disruption in foods”

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